Born on March 25, 1934, Gloria Steinem has spent a lifetime unlearning dangerous lies stemming from prejudice against women and helping others to do so. Her grandmother, Pauline Perlmutter Steinem, was a well-known women's rights activist and a leader in the movement for vocational education; she left a lasting impression on Gloria as a self-assured, intelligent woman intent on civic activism. Gloria's mother Ruth gave up a career in journalism to raise a family and — partly as a result of that sacrifice — suffered from incapacitating depression. When Ruth and Gloria's father Leo got divorced, Gloria was pushed at eleven years old to be her mother's caregiving and housekeeper.

She was finally able to get away and live with a sister and then attended Smith College, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1956. After taking on miscellaneous writing assignments, she became a founding editor of New York magazine in 1968. There she wrote a column that established her as a voice for social change. In 1971 she joined with Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan, and other feminists to form the National Women's Political caucus, and she founded the feminist magazine Ms., a forerunner in advocacy for issues like combatting domestic violence.

Steinem has produced a documentary on child abuse for HBO, a feature film about the death penalty for Lifetime, and WOMAN, a series of eight documentaries for VICELAND about violence against women in eight countries, from the United States to Zambia. She is also the subject of The Education of a Woman, a biography by Carolyn Heilbrun, and HBO’s “Gloria: In Her Own Words." Her books include the bestsellers My Life on the Road, Revolution from Within, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, Moving Beyond Words, Marilyn: Norma Jean, on the life of Marilyn Monroe, and in India, As If Women Matter.

She co-founded and serves on the boards of the Women's Media Center, Equality Now, Donor Direct Action, and the Advisory Board of Apne Aap, and is a frequent speaker on campuses and in the media. She is an advisor to TIME'S UP, part of a global movement against sexual harassment and violence. In 2013, President Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. She lives in New York City.

To Name This Day . . .


Which of the following quotes most helps you to make a needed change in your life or the lives of those around you?

"I’ve learned from these events that self-esteem plays as much a part in the destiny of nations as it does in the lives of individuals; that self-hatred leads to the need either to dominate or to be dominated; that citizens who refuse to obey anything but their own conscience can transform their countries; in short, that self-esteem is the basis of any real democracy."
— in Revolution from Within

"God may be in the details, but the goddess is in the questions. Once we begin to ask them, there's no turning back."
— in Moving Beyond Words

"Law and justice are not always the same. When they aren't, destroying the law may be the first step toward changing it."
— quoted in Building a Life of Value: Timeless Wisdom to Inspire and Empower Us (2005) by Jason A. Merchey, p. 225

"Some of us are becoming the men we wanted to marry."
— in Ms., 1982

"Writing is the only thing that . . . when I'm doing it, I don't feel that I should be doing something else instead."
— in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

"Power can be taken but not given. The process of the taking is empowerment in itself."
— in Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions

Spiritual Practice

In an article called "Sisterhood" New York Magazine (December 20, 1971), Steinem wrote, "I have met brave women who are exploring the outer edge of human possibility, with no history to guide them, and the courage to make themselves vulnerable that I find moving beyond words."

In your journal, write a letter to yourself as a young person, describing the joys and challenges you've faced as you've tried to actualize the best in humanity. What do you discover about your accomplishments and further goals in the process?